Thursday, November 30, 2006

Movie Review: "Casino Royale"


I'll admit it. I was one of those protesters when Daniel Craig was announced as the new James Bond. I had been rooting for Clive Owen. I've seen all 20 Bond movies (twice) and Craig to me looked more like a villain than James Bond. Plus he was blond. So I was planning on just waiting for Casino Royale to come out on DVD before I watched it. But when the reviews came out, they were all mostly positive. And the audience reaction was pretty good too. So I caved in.

My family and I went to see the movie Thanksgiving weekend. We were all blown away. Gone is the cheeky humor from the Brosnan films. There is no Q or Moneypenny and neither are really missed. No more silly stunts, gadgets, or ridiculous situations. (invisible car, rampage fire truck anyone?) The first action scene is so exciting that you literally are scrounging in your seat, anxious as to what will happen. You've never seen Bond run this way before. The movie is more violent than the others and there isn't as much humor (although there was a very funny line during the torture scene-you know which one). But I liked that it was serious, and it was fun to see Felix Leiter again (since this is a prequel, he hasn't been eaten by the shark).

I don't know a thing about poker and any other card game, but it was obvious when Bond was doing well and when he wasn't. The whole card game scene was very tense and suspenseful. As for the Bond girls, I really like Eva Green as Vesper Lynd. I always applaud when the writers use a strong Bond girl. Why they insist on just dumb eye candy ones I have no clue. The public actually likes pretty girls with brains.

I also really liked the title song (You Know My Name by Chris Cornell). It has been on repeat in my itunes for the past 4 days. The title credits were very cool and refreshing as they were very creative with the cards (loved the spade bullets) and did not resort to using naked women. *Spoiler* This was the first Bond movie since On Her Majesty's Secret Service that did not end with Bond being with the girl. And personally I liked it better that way.

I feel like this was a really long review and I sound like I'm gushing. The truth is that I really was pleasantly surprised about this movie. Even my sisters who are only very casual Bond fans loved this movie (we debated whether to see the movie again the very next day). Daniel Craig has done such an amazing job at portraying Bond that when, at the end, he utters the famous "Bond, James Bond" line, you actually believe him. I can't wait til Bond 22.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Landon Snow and the Island of Arcanum by R. K. Mortenson

This book is in my TBR pile so I'll have a review up soon in a couple of weeks! Until then here's the CFBA review. Enjoy!


Christian parents are finally offered a true Potter alternative...All the adventure of Harry Potter...None of the sorcery!


This week the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is doing a blog tour for Landon Snow and The Island of Arcanum by R.K.Mortenson, published by Barbour Publishing (October 2006).


About the AUTHOR:

R.K.Mortenson is an ordained minister with the Church of the Lutheran Brethren. He has been writing devotional and inspirational articles since 1995. He currently serves as a navy chaplain in Florida and lives with his wife, daughter and son in Jacksonville.

This page at Barbour's site provides a few good links, two as recent as last week: http://www.barbourbooks.com/author/detail/r-k-mortenson/. The top link there goes to a story about Randy's adoption experiences, the second link goes to the Landon Snow short at Clubhouse magazine.

Randy got the idea for this series one late night, when flute music woke him from a sound sleep. As he stood at his window, trying to locate the source of the sound, he spied a library across the lawn. Suddenly, he envisioned an eleven-year-old sneaking out of his bed and stealing to the library in the dead of night...And thus Landon Snow was born.




The BOOK:

In the latest adventure of Landon Snow And the Island of Arcanum, Landon, once again visits his grandparents in Button Up, Minnesota. If your familiar with the first two books, Landon Snow and the Auctor's Riddle, and Landon Snow and The Shadows of Malus Quidam, you'll know that Landon's adventures always start at the Library in Button Up.

This time, Landon's most dangerous journey yet, begins in a rowboat-shaped tombstone that floats. And it's lucky for him that it floats because a few drips from the library ceiling turns into a powerful waterfall.

The stone turns into wood, the stone book propped up in the prow of the boat turns to paper. The left page says "ANCHOR". The right page says "AWEIGH".

"Anchor aweigh?" said Landon.

Holly whispered, "Did you hear that?"

No one has time to respond, however. The next instant saw the water before them dropping away as the water behind them grew into a giant swell, pitching them headlong into the abyss.

Landon will have to protect his two younger sisters, Holly and Bridget, who wind up in the boat with him headed towards The Island of Arcanum. On the Island, the animals of Wonderwood are imprisoned and the evil shadows of Landon's nemesis, Malus Quidam lurk!

With the help of some old friends, a horse named Melech, an odd fellow named Hardy, a girl named Ditty, and the poet/prophet Vates--Landon seeks to unlock the island's dark secrets and escape with the animals intact.

But first, he must navigate his way through unchartered waters and battle the villainous Archans...Can Landon and his friends rescue the animals from deep within the island's stronghold?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Book Review: "Jade" by Marilynn Griffith


Green is my second favorite color

Lily Chau is the next member in the Garments of Praise team that we get to meet. She's in her late thirties, taking care of her sick mother, trying to get her foot into the fashion industry and trying to figure out her relationship with her boyfriend. She gets invited to compete in a Project Runway-like reality show with the help of a famous designer. Little does she know that the designer is the mysterious stranger that she keeps running into and finding a growing attraction with. Lily has to decide how she will manage her mother, her fashion, her boyfriends, and her life.

This is one of the first Christian fiction novels where there is an Asian American female lead character. AND she happens to not be an immigrant or someone living in the 1800s . There aren't many Asian Americans portrayed without any sort of stereotypes in books in general so this was a welcome relief. I felt that Lily's character was very real. I understand her insistence of taking care of her mother. Family is very important in Asian culture. Like in Pink, I enjoyed seeing the going ons behind the fashion industry. And I also loved that while Lily is slightly bothered at being almost 40 and still not married, she's still managed to create a name for herself and not be bothered too much by it. I liked the contrast in Doug and Ken. Lily's mom's story with her dad was very moving and sad.
The only thing I didn't get was when Lily and Doug first met. The way it was written, Doug looked like a homeless person and Lily falls head over heels for him like that. Now maybe I'm just being paranoid, but if I was alone on a street and a stranger looking like that came up to me, I'd be a little scared. Lily just seemed like she had let her guard down completely which is not a safe thing to do in a city at night.

I really enjoyed this book. The series is great as it focuses on different ethnicities. I'm really looking forward to reading Tangerine.

Jade by Marilynn Griffith is published by Revell (2006)

Monday, November 27, 2006

Book Review: "Altar Call" by Hope Lyda


You don't know what you've got till it's gone

Mari seems to having her life finally like she planned. She has great friends, a good job, a better relationship with her parents and .....a boyfriend. Her friend Sadie is about to get married and Mari, Angelica, and Caitlin are excited and nervous about their friend leaving the single life behind. Amid all the wedding plans (including ugly bridesmaids dresses chosen by the bride's sister) Mari starts to question her relationship with Beau. When her father becomes ill, Mari leaves to go back to her hometown. There she meets up again with Marcus, an old friend. Mari has to make the decision of whether she needs to be east or west.


I really enjoyed this book. I don't want to give away the ending, but I was really happy with Mari's decision about Beau. He started off great and then became ....typical male. And of course there would be an ex-girlfriend in the picture. Why are guys always clueless in this area, and then it somehow becomes the girl's fault? I'm glad she finally stood up to him, was able to speak her mind, and be able to have no regrets. I'm glad that this series focuses on women in their late 20s/early 30s having the time of their lives. Too many Christian novels have women marrying at 20, having kids by 24, and becoming grandmothers by 40. That is not real life. I thought Mari and her friends were very realistic. I also liked Caitlin's story and how she was finally able to stand up to her parents. I found Mari's ever changing ring tones to be quite amusing as well. This book was fun, not preachy, a great chick lit read.

If you haven't read Mari's first adventure be sure to pick up Hip to Be Square. It's just as good as Altar Call. I hope that someday there'll be third book in the series.

Altar Call by Hope Lyda is published by Harvest House (2006)

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Waterfall Books

Katie Hart wants you to join Waterfall Books!

From Katie:
"You can get the back cover copy at any online seller. You can get the first chapter on Christian Book Previews, email lists, and publisher websites. You can get author interviews on half a dozen blogs. You can get academic reviews in journals and uninformed reviews on Amazon. But nothing beats having a friend who loves to read telling you, "This is good. Here's why . . ."

And so Reviewing Christian Novels was born.

It'll likely be monthly. It'll include reviews of fantasy and suspense and chick-lit and historical and romance and mystery and more - because if it's a good book, genre doesn't matter to me. It'll launch sometime this fall or winter - January at the latest. And it'll likely include contests and drawings, because everyone loves free books."
You can also win prizes from joining. Like these:

Influencer Prize Packs

Top Influencer will receive:

A Bride Most Begruding by Deeanne Gist
The Cubicle Next Door by Siri Mitchell
Shivering World by Kathy Tyers
All She Ever Wanted by Lynn Austin
Beyond the Blue by Leslie Gould
CD - My Other Band - Volume One
Four selections from my ARC/galley pile

Second Top Influencer will receive:

Comes a Horseman (hardcover) by Robert Liparulo
River Rising (hardcover) by Athol Dickson
Mark of the Cross by Judith Pella
Three selections from my ARC/galley pile

Third Top Influencer will receive:

A Garden to Keep (hardcover) by Jamie Langston Turner
The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Caught by Neta Jackson
Paper Moon by Linda Windsor
Three selections from my ARC/galley pile

How do you win one of these packs? By telling others about Waterfall
Books! Email friends, post about it on your blog, send out a myspace
bulletin, whatever. Be creative! Whenever you've done something to
promote Waterfall Books, email Katie (theloneislands@yahoo.com) to let
her know. You'll one point for each promotion - two points or
more for creative or extra influential ways of spreading the word.
Points will be tallied up in January.

Links ideal to include:
http://reviewingchristiannovels.blogspot.com
mailto:christiannovels-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Book reviews are great (I should know from this site...hehe). So join Katie and help to promote Waterfall Books!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Movie Review: "The Lake House"


I don't normally like chick flicks. I can't stand straight romance stories. Give me something like Star Wars, Lord of the Rings or James Bond any day. I like adventure with a tough of romance, not something that's completely full of it. However even someone like me can be a sucker for a really really good love story.

The Lake House stars Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock (their first time together since Speed!-as every ad seemed to say) as two people who both live in a glass house on a lake. They communicate by writing letters to each other. The catch- she lives in 2006, he lives in 2004. Yes you can start scratching your head. The two begin a relationship even though they are two years apart. It was nice to see a relationship played out just through the old fashioned way of writing letters. (I wish I got more letters...) What's interesting (and extremely head scratching) is that because the two are writing to each other, they have somehow met in the past..well her past and and his present. He know everything about her, she can barely remember him. Then something happens when they choose to meet, will they end up together and test the trials of time? (yes i know that was cheesy)

Like I said I really liked this movie. It was so nice to watch a romance movie without any sex in it. The director could have thrown it in just for a higher rating (this movie was only PG) but there would have been no point. You CAN tell a good movie without it. Keanu and Sandra still have good chemistry together. The only thing I got confused was anything I've mentioned as head scracthing. Yes obviously the who time difference couldn't happen, but it gets extremely confusing when you sit down and think about it. Like how could he have been here if he was there and why didn't she tell him about this. I read another review where the guy asked "If she really loved him, why didn't she give him winning lottery numbers?" Haha, something else to think about. Overall great movie, highly recommended.

Another movie I'd recommend if you like this one is the Hallmark movie, The Love Letter starring Campbell Scott and Jennifer Jason Leigh. The story is similar except the two leads are seperated by over 130 years, he's in the 90s she's in the Civil War. You'll like this one if you like the Lake House.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Book Review: "Before I Wake" by Dee Henderson


Happy Thanksgiving!!

Murder in Small Town X

Rae Gabriella has come to the small town of Justice, Illinois to escape her past as a former FBI agent. She finds a job with her former boyfriend Bruce as a private investigator. Thinking she can finally settle down, Rae begins to relax and discovers she has a sharing interest with both Bruce and the town's sheriff Nathan. Then a dead body is found in the same hotel Rae is staying at. When more deaths are being discovered and cannot be explained, the three end up working together to find out who and what is behind the murders.

I thought this book gave an interesting look into the drug industry. The reader learns a lot about how drugs are made, marketed and sold unsuspectingly. One has to be careful about the samples they eat. It was interesting that all the clues and suspects were right there, and no one picks up on it. However, I didn't like how the book ended rather abruptly. While we find out who the killer is, there seems to be a bigger story behind that which we find next to nothing about. If there is going to be a sequel, great. I just felt rather unsatisfied with the ending. I also didn't feel Rae having any chemistry with either of the two men. She seems like the type of woman that can take of herself and doesn't need anyone. I'll read the next book, if there is one, but I'd recommend Henderson's O'Malley series to new readers.

Before I Wake by Dee Henderson is published by Tyndale (2006)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Book Review: "Hazardous Duty" by Christy Barritt


Did you know crime scene cleaning can be a six figure job?

I knew this book was going to be interesting when I sat down to lunch with the book, opened up the first page, read the first line and promptly had to spit out my lunch. Fragments of skull and grilled chicken do not mix. Gaby St. Clair is a crime scene cleaner. During one of her jobs, she discovers what appears to be the real murder weapon. Since the police don't believe her at first, Gaby tries to find the real killer on her own. Along the way, amid several death attempts, she and her cute neighbor try to unravel whose actually behind all these sinister doings.

I knew knew there was such a job as a crime scene cleaner. Well obviously I realized that someone had to clean up the mess, but I didn't think that there could be such a profitable business doing it. I definitely couldn't do that job, my stomach couldn't handle it. This book ended up being a quick read because I couldn't put it down. This book isn't preachy at all. I felt it showed accurately how a frustrated a non-Christian could get with trying to understand how and why God acts. Why is though that guys always have perfect ex-girlfriends? Sure, they may saw she has a lot of flaws, but you never get to see them. I liked Gaby's reaction, because it's exactly how I would have acted.

Something else I personally enjoyed was the fact that I was familiar with all the settings in the book because I'm from that area! Normally books take place in New York, Chicago, LA, places where I have to use my imagination just to picture the setting. This time, I've been to Freemason Abbey, the Bier Garten, Scope, ODU; Gaby even takes a trip to my city. So it was great to see local places keep popping up. I'm looking forward to Gaby's next adventure and also seeing how her relationships are going to end up.

Hazardous Duty by Christy Barritt is published by Kregel (2006)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Book Review: "Sands of Time" by Susan May Warren

From Russia With Love

To a few Americans Russia is still unknown territory. Some people still see Russia as our foes from the Cold War, that communist nation. Or others view them as the country that always used to beat the US at every sport in the Olympics (except that wonderful hockey game in 1980..which i wasn't born yet but the movie was great!). I find Russia fascinating country simply because I've never really learned that much of the country itself.

Sarai is a missionary doctor. Roman is an FSB agent. 13 years ago they used to be in love. Now Roman is trying to get Sarai out of the country for her safety. Sarai doesn't want to leave because there is a illness that she cannot figure what the source is from. The two have to learn to put up with each other in order to get themselves into safety and away from the dangers that the government has put out against them.

This book was just jammed pack with suspense. One thing keeps happening after another. You never get bored. I really liked both characters. Actually I liked Sarai a lot better than Gracie from "In Sheep's Clothing." Sarai was a lot stronger and able to handles things on her own. When Roman fell into the lake, I actually felt cold. And the fact that he kept his jeans on afterwards....blehhhh.
I think there's a description of Roman written somewhere in the book, but I kept picturing him as James Bond a la Pierce Bronsnan. The scene at the chemical plant would have been perfect in a Bond movie. To me the most dramatic part was when Sarai screams that she hates Roman, and there's nothing Roman could do about it. It seemed so tragic. I really enjoyed this book. We are currently studying about the Cold War and Russia in one of my classes. So this book helped to see what Russian culture is like and how an American would fit into the country. I'd recommend this book for anyone who likes romantic suspense or would enjoy learning about Russian culture.

Sands of Time by Susan May Warren is published by Steeple Hill (2006)

Monday, November 20, 2006

Calm, Cool, and Adjusted by Kristin Billerbeck

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is posting about Calm, Cool, and Adjusted by Kristin Billerbeck

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kristin Billerbeck was born in Redwood City, California. She went to San Jose State University and majored in Advertising, then worked at the Fairmont Hotel in PR, a small ad agency as an account exec, and then, she was thrust into the exciting world of shopping mall marketing. She got married, had four kids, and started writing romance novels until she found her passion: Chick Lit.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Calm, Cool, and Adjusted is the third book in the Spa Girls Novels.

Billerbeck did a great job with the characterization of Poppy, a quirky Christian chiropractor who is a health nut. I'm talking real NUT. She is so obsessed with health that she forgets about living. When she finally realizes that she is over the edge obsessed, she doesn't know how to stop herself.

Best friends since Johnny Depp wore scissors for hands, "The Spa Girls" live very separate lives, but stay in touch with routine visits to California's Spa Del Mar.

The third novel in the Spa Girls Series focuses on Silicon Valley chiropractor Poppy Clayton, who is as calm, cool and adjusted as they come. Or is she? Known for her bad fashion sense, a love for all things natural and the inability to get a second date, Poppy is beginning to wonder if she might be misaligned herself. Her route to self discovery will be an unnatural one - a plastic surgeon, a dilapidated house in Santa Cruz, a flirtatious client, and a blind date from the dark side.

It's all enough to send a girl - and her gal pals - running for the comfort zone of their spa.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Scoop by Rene Gutteridge

sorry for the lack of updates. i'm going through a very tough time right now. as i said in my previous post please continue to pray for me and my grandmother. i'll get back to posting reviews next week. thanks so much! now on to this week's blog tour!



This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is posting about Scoop by Rene Gutteridge

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rene Gutteridge is the author of several novels, including Ghost Writer (Bethany House Publishers) The Boo Series (WaterBrook Press) and the Storm Series, (Tyndale House Publishers. She will release three novels in 2006: Storm Surge (Tyndale) My Life as a Doormat (WestBow Press, Women of Faith)Occupational Hazards Book #1: Scoop (WaterBrook Press).

She has also been published over thirty times as a playwright, best known for her Christian comedy sketches. She studied screenwriting under a Mass Communications degree, graduating Magna Cum Laude from Oklahoma City University, and earned the "Excellence in Mass Communication" award. She served as the full-time Director of Drama for First United Methodist Church for five years before leaving to stay home and write. She enjoys instructing at writer's conferences and in college classrooms. She lives with her husband, Sean, a musician, and their children in Oklahoma City.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

The Occupational Hazards Books are a series of books about seven homeschooled siblings whose last name is Hazard. The parents died in a freak accident leaving the kids ages 16-26 with a lucrative clown business but the kids realize that God has other plans which doesn't include being a family of clowns for the rest of their lives.

Scoop, is the first of the series and centers around Hayden, who was age 20 when her parents died. If you haven't yet guessed by the series title, this book is packed with many laugh out loud moments and great one liners.

Hayden is a strong Christian who, having been homeschooled, lacks some of the politically correct social norms...like not praying in front of everyone during a crisis. She finds herself in an internship at a television news station with a boss that takes stress pills, an aging news anchor that everyone wishes Botox on, a weatherman who wants to predict love for himself and Hayden, and a reporter struggling with his own politically correctness of being a good reporter and being a Christian.

Old School meets New School meets Homeschool. A smart and funny read.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Prayer Request

If anyone happens to stumble across my blog this afternoon, I would really appreciate your prayers. I can't really say the entire reasons but please keep me in your thoughts today. Also my grandmother in Malaysia is very ill and my mother has to leave to go see her. Please keep them both in your prayers.
Thanks so much.
-Deborah

Monday, November 13, 2006

TitleTrader.com

Here's a plug for anyone who wanted more books, movies, or CDs at TitleTrader.com.

From Dan Abercrombie who runs the site:


The site works by users posting what they have to offer, when someone requests one of their items they send it out. In doing so they receive points that can be spent on anything else on the site. The sender pays the shipping, but the favor is returned when they request something. The site is free, with a few added features for a minimal fee.

To give you a little more information about the site, it was opened in September of 2004. A couple months earlier my sister came to me with the idea for a new website. She had a lot of books and a small house and thought it would be a good idea to help get rid of some of them. I put it together in a few weeks and have been working on it since. We have over 180,000 items listed, with almost 8000 users, and 90,000 items have been traded. We're the largest such site that has not only books, but CDs, DVDs, VHS, video games, and magazines. It provides a nice flexibility being able to trade a CD for a DVD for example. The site also supports international trading, users can select which countries they are willing to ship to.
Check it out, looks like a good way to get rid of books you don't want and to pick up a few new ones!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Book Review: "The Cubicle Next Door" by Siri Mitchell

To Blog or Not to Blog

Blogs are a great way to release stress. You can write about anything on your mind. People can read about your emotions, your fears, your love life but still have no idea who the real you is.


Jackie is a civilian who works at the US Air Force Academy. She is forced to share her office, now divided by a cubicle, with Joe, a former pilot and new teacher. She lives with her grandmother and writes in her blog her feelings for Joe (with codes names of course) that she would never actually say out loud. When her blog becomes famous, EVERYONE seems to be reading it and trying to guess who the author is, including Joe. Jackie has to struggle with her feelings for him and to keep him from guessing that the blog is really about him.

I really liked this book. I really admired Jackie and felt for her. You understand why she acts and feels the way she does. It was refreshing to read a chick lit book where the main character isn't such a girly-girl who shops and is boy crazy. Believe it or not, there are some of us out there that are like that!

Joe sometimes got on my nerves. I'll admit he is a good guy and one of the nicest male leads I've read in a while. But sometimes he was just so....arrrghhh! The scene that stands out most is when he asks Jackie to go to the Bollywood movie with him. But then in the theater all he does is keep complaining and talking during the movie AND he eats all her popcorn. He also seems a little unsympathetic when Jackie is slow to reacting to his affections due to her history. But like I said he is a good guy and I did like him and he was good for Jackie.

Otherwise I really enjoyed this book. It gave great insight to the military/civilian life. I also liked the comments in the blog. You get different perspectives from everyone (although the 15 year old know-it-all guy seemed a little unbelievable) that add a touch of real life and humor the the blogs. My favorite scene happened after Jackie wrote her "help me" post and the whole blogging world goes insane with worry about what happened to her. When I got to the end I had to flip back and read over stuff. I was caught off guard and pleasantly surprised. This is a great chick lit book and I'm looking forward to going back and reading the rest of Siri's books.

The Cubicle Next Door by Siri Mitchell is published by Harvest House (2006)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Cubicle Next Door by Siri Mitchell

I'll be posting up my own review on this book tomorrow



This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is posting about The Cubicle Next Door by Siri L. Mitchell.

If you like blogging...which you must if you are reading this...you will think this book is blogarific. After each chapter, there is a blog entry. The book is written in first person and contains some hilarious blog antics.

Imagine that you are an anonymous blogger, one who uses a silly name instead of your own, then imagine blogging about your work. Now imagine blogging about your cubicle mate of the opposite sex and calling him by an anonymous name.

I know some who have done just that.

But now imagine that your cubicle mate has discovered your blog and begins to read it out loud to you. EVERY MORNING.

The Cubicle Next Door is set in a civilian's view of working on a military post. That in itself is funny enough...then add that the main character is a tree hugging, anti-SUV lover, with a thing for Bollywood movies. (Her favorite it Bride & Prejudice.) Suddenly this civilian hippie is thrown into a cubicle next to an Air Force Pilot/Teacher who drives...yep...an SUV. Can't you feel the love?

Also, The Cubicle Next Door has some wonderful moments of self discovery.

A delightful read...here is an excerpt for you:

The Cubicle Next Door

by Siri L. Mitchell Released Aug 06

Excerpt from Chapter 1:

“So what do you think, Jackie?”

What do I think? Funny Joe should ask me that. He’s just finished reading my blog. He’s just quoted me to myself. Or is it myself to me? Do I sound surreal, as if I’m living in parallel universes?

I am!

The blog—my blog—is all about Joe. And other topics that make me want to scream. But the clever thing is, I’m anonymous. When I’m blogging.

I’m Jackie, Joe’s cubicle-mate when I’m not.

And that’s the problem.

Joe is asking Jackie (me) what I think about the Mystery Blogger (also me). And since I don’t want Joe to know the blog is all about me and what I think of him, I can’t tell him what I think about me.

My brain is starting to short circuit.

So if I can’t tell him what I think about me, I certainly can’t tell him what I think about him, so I’m going to have to pretend not to be me. Not me myself and not me The Cubicle Next Door Blogger—TCND to my fans.

I have fans!

If I were clever I’d say something like, “Look!” and point behind him and then duck out of the room when he turned around to look.

But there’s so much computer equipment stacked around my desk and so many cables snaking around the floor that I’d break my neck if I tried to run away. So that option is out.

I could try pretending I didn’t hear him. “What?”

“SUVs. So what do you think about them?”

But then we’d basically end up back where we started.

So how did I get myself into this mess?

It was all Joe’s fault.

Book Winner

The winner of Coldwater Revival by Nancy Jo Jenkins is

Erin.

Congrats!

Look forward to another giveaway in the future. Keep checking!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Book Review: "Interior Motives" by Ginny Aiken



Don't forget to enter the contest for Coldwater Revival. Click here to enter. I'll pick a name and announce the winner on Wednesday.

Wrong Place at the Wrong Time Yet Again

You'd think after finding two dead bodies by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Haley Farrell would have learned her lesson. Nope, she does it again. This time Haley is at the home of a new client ready to start the redecorating process when she hears the nurse yell out that her customer is dead. At first everyone believes that this is due to cancer. However after finding out that the nurse, the two greedy sons, and the doctor all might have "interior motives" Haley along with newly appointed pet detective Bella hunt for the real killer. When Haley begins to suspect her own friend Tedd, she begins to worry that's she's gotten in far more than she bargained for.

I once again found this a satisfying read in the Deadly Decor series. Haley has a knack for finding mysteries when she's not looking for it. And she also has a way of creating humor in serious situations. I also liked how her relationship with Detective Tsu has gotten better since they both now have dogs who are brothers. Before they would get at each other's throats, now they have something that ties them together. However I still don't like Dutch. He got on my nerves in the first book when he kept accusing Haley of murder. Even in the 2nd book when the tables are turned on him, he still blames Haley. Now in this book he's still very rude and condescending to her especially when she was on her date. Bella is also kind of loopy but she does add to the humor in the book. I hope that we'll be treated to a new Haley adventure soon. I want her to be able to get a job without the client dying on her!

Interior Motives
by Ginny Aiken is published by Revell (2006)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Movie Review: "One Night With the King"


Don't forget to enter the contest for Coldwater Revival. Click here to enter. I'll pick a name and announce the winner on Wednesday.

I enjoy watching the biblical and historical blockbusters from the 50s and 60s. The costumes, sets, and even acting are so extensive and elaborate. Movie like Ben Hur and The Ten Commandments evoke the feel that there was a time when Hollywood cared about movie making and wasn't ashamed to portray religious movies in a positive light.

"One Night With The King" brings back that past movie making. This is the story of Esther from the Old Testament, and based on the novel "Hadassah: One Night With the King" by Tommy Tenney and Mark Andrew Olsen. I will assume everyone knows the story of Esther (if you don't, find a Bible), but to sum up the plot: King gets rid of old queen, King holds beauty contest, King picks new Queen, Queen is hiding her heritage, Evil advisor wants to kill queen's people, Queen finally tells King, King kills advisor, People are saved, Queen's bravery is remembered forever.

What I liked about the movie:
1) Esther- I really like her character. Very strong and likeable. I loved her costumes and her hairstyles.
2) Mordecai- Who better to play him than Gimli/Sallah?!
3) Haman- Wonderfully wicked. James Callis should be nominated for an Oscar.
4) Xerxes & Vashti's relationship - I really liked how it was played out. In most retellings you are given the impression that the king is a total male chauvinist and Vashti is a feminist. Here you see they have a real relationship and he didn't want to really call her out.

What I didn't Like
1) Peter O'Toole - Wonderful actor but why does he have top billing? He's in the movie for less than a minute!
2) Jesse - I'm not sure the purpose of his character. We all know who Esther was going to marry so he didn't really have a point in the story.
3) Xerxes - I didn't like the guy who played him. He looked weak and kind of girly. I also couldn't really understand his accent.

But I really liked this movie. I felt that it was very faithful to the OT story. Scripture is read and there is even mention of Jesus. At my showing the theater was packed which I was surprised since the movie had already been out for 3 weeks. The audience ranged from young teens to the elderly. I hope more movies like this get made. Christians should go out and support movies like this instead of boycotting all the time. How will studios make better movies if no one goes to see the good ones they put out?

Friday, November 03, 2006

Book Review: "Arms of Deliverance" by Tricia Goyer


Don't forget to enter the contest for Coldwater Revival. Click here to enter. I'll pick a name and announce the winner on Wednesday.

History comes alive

I love historical fiction. For me, it helps me to understand history better. I learn more and it's easier to relate too. It was because of historical fiction that I changed my major to history. I love reading all types, from ancient Greek and Roman history right to stories based during the Cold War. Historical fiction brings the people, places and events to life.


"Arms of Deliverance" is Tricia Goyer's fourth novel set during World War II. Mary and Lee are two female reporters each struggling to prove they deserve to have the top story. Katrine is a Jew, living the life of an Aryan, pregnant with a Nazi's child. Their lives become intertwined as Mary and Lee are sent to Europe to report about the war and Katrine learns the risk of keeping her secret. Along the way, the reader learns about the Nazis view of children and bloodlines, the role of women reporters during war times and the true meaning of sacrifice.

I found this book fascinating. I love stories set during WWII. This was such a dramatic time period. I found the Katrine story very captivating, as she is a Jew being able to pass for a Aryan. Learning about the birthing houses where women gave birth solely to make new generations of Aryans was very interesting. I felt like I was really in the story especially during Mary and Eddie's adventure. Very edge of your seat. The amazing thing is is that many people probably faced that exact situation during the war. It makes the story more exciting and nerve wracking. You can tell there was a lot of research done in writing the book. I really liked the strong female characters. Mary and Lee kept trying to make their name on their own and allowed themselves to be pushed to the limit. Katrine risks her life to finally let the truth be known. I'm not sure I could do the same had I been in their situation.

Currently in one of my courses, we are studying about WWII and the Nazis. This book is helped get a better outlook on their thinking and way of life. I'm really glad I read it and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of Tricia's books. I would recommend this for anyone who likes historical fiction.

Arms of Deliverance by Tricia Goyer is published by Moody (2006)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Book Review: "Savannah Comes Undone" by Denise Hildreth


Don't forget to enter the contest for Coldwater Revival. Click Here to enter. I'll pick a name and announce the winner on Wednesday.

Oh Mother!

Moms have a way of embarrassing us. They don't mean it of course. They just do it accidentally in public places. And from what I've heard they still do it long after you've moved out and started your own family. But we all still love them.

Savannah (from Savannah) is alarmed to hear that her mother has chained herself to the monument of the 10 commandments outside of the courthouse. She can't believe that her beauty queen mother, who always has to look perfect, is willing to sit outside in public in the same clothes for days. Thus Savannah tries to distance herself away from her mother, dealing instead with a homeless lady who keeps asking her for food, a beauty queen killing her boyfriend and a new female reporter who's caught the eye of every guy in town. Eventually, Savannah comes to realize her mother's stance and respects her.

I liked how this story had Savannah come to better terms with her mother. In the first book, the reader is shown how the two are completely different. This story had Savannah finally understanding her mom, standing up for her, and learning to be proud of her. I found the scenes with Amber funny as usual. Between her rehearsed speech on Ronald Reagan and her chasing and beating up the purse snatcher I was in stitches. The scenes with the picnic with Grant was touching because it's hard to when someone you love has moved on with another. I was also relived that Savannah has decided to cut back on the coke. It's a wonder that she doesn't suffer from caffeine overdose or stained teeth!

I'd recommend this book for anyone who likes chick lit, mother-daughter stories or Southern culture.

Savannah Comes Undone by Denise Hildreth is published by Thomas Nelson (2005)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

"Coldwater Revival" by Nancy Jo Jenkins and BOOK GIVEAWAY!

BOOK GIVEAWAY!!!!


It is November 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and their latest book's FIRST chapter!

This month's feature author is:

This blog is featuring a contest to win a
copy of Nancy's new book, Coldwater Revival. Leave a comment with your email address. I'll announce the winner next Wednesday, November 8. Good luck!

Just three weeks before her wedding, Emma Grace Falin has returned to her hometown of Coldwater, Texas, consumed by a single, burning desire. She must confront the guilt and shame of a devastating event that has haunted her since childhood.

"...What a stunning debut novel."
--Wendy Lawton, Literary Agent, author of Impressions in Clay

"An astonishing debut! Coldwater Revival is a hauntingly beautiful story made doubly so by Nancy Jo Jenkins stunning, lyrical writing. I was mesmerized from cover to cover."
--Deborah Raney, author of A Nest of Sparrows and A Vow to Cherish

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Meet Nancy Jo...

Q. How long did it take you to write Coldwater Revival?

A. I perceived the idea for Coldwater Revival in June, 2003, and completed the manuscript in March, 2005.

Q. Tell us about your journey from writer to published novelist.

A. During my teaching career, I dreamed of the day when I could write the stories that continually swam around in my head. I didn't know at the time that it would take me four or five years of attending workshops, conferences, retreats, lectures, and of studying tapes, books and other materials before I was ready to put my newly-acquired knowledge to use, and begin writing the stories that God had prompted me to write. In March, 2004, at the Mount Hermon Christian Writing Conference, I submitted a book proposal to Steve Laube (Literary agent), and Jeff Dunn, (Acquisitions Editor) for RiverOak. Both gentlemen asked me to send them all I had written on Coldwater Revival, which at the time was 109 pages. During the summer of 2004, both men offered me a contract. My book was published by RiverOak and released in May, 2006.

Q. The agony and healing Emma Grace went through are so real. What personal experiences did you draw from to portray Emma Grace's feelings so well?

A. There was a time in my life when I suffered with depression, though it was not due to a death in the family, as Emma Grace's was. At the time, it seemed that I was in a daily knock-down, drag-out fistfight with sadness. I was truly blessed in that I was never prescribed any kind of medication to treat my depression, which proved to be relatively short-lived. But I did receive counseling, which was just what I needed to win the battle with this debilitating condition. During that time of depression I endured many of the symptoms that Emma Grace suffered through. Excessive sleeping was about the only symptom we did not share. There were times when I couldn't swallow my food, and times when I could almost touch the face of that same blackness that almost overwhelmed Emma Grace. Her sorrow and guilt were difficult scenes for me to write, and I found myself crying each time I wrote about Emma Grace's sadness and the continual ache in her heart.

Q. Emma Grace loses all desire for life when her brother dies - not eating or talking, just living in the blissful cocoon of sleep. Do you have any advice for folks who are in that dark place right now?

A. Communication was the key that unlocked the door of depression for me. Communicate with God, even if the only words you can utter are the words, "Help me." But I also benefited greatly from talking to a certified counselor; one who was trained in helping people express their pain, their needs, their fears. I hope that anyone who feels sad and lonely for an extended length of time, will contact their pastor, or someone who can direct them to a Christian counselor.

Q. Emma Grace's grandmother lives in the city while the rest of the family lives in the country. Why do you think she didn't move out to the country with the rest of the family long ago?

A. Granny Falin immigrated from Ireland to America with her husband and son when Emma Grace's papa was just a lad. This family shared a dream about their new country. It would be a place where they could find work and prosperity, raise their family, and put down roots. Even the Great Hurricane of 1900 couldn't wash those dreams from Granny's heart. Though her only remaining child lived a hundred miles away in the rural township of Coldwater, Texas, Granny could never leave Galveston. The island and the sea that surrounded the island were her home now. It was where the ashes of her husband and three children were buried. It was the home she and her husband had dreamed of during their desperate years together in Ireland. If she left Galveston and moved to Roan's home, she would be giving up the dream she had shared with her husband.

Q. Papa and Elo have a tough time showing their emotions. Elo, especially, is so hard to read in the book. Why do you think some people hole up inside themselves rather than sharing their emotions?

A. I believe we are born with a portion of our personality already deeply embedded within us. Some people are reticent to express their feelings and emotions, while others have no problem whatsoever in expressing what they feel or think. I have known many individuals who are like Elo; people we sometimes refer to as "the strong, silent type". Papa and Elo are powerful protectors and providers who waste little time and effort on words. Both of these men feel that "actions speak louder than words". Added to that is the fact that Elo feels extreme discomfort when his mother and sisters are emotionally distraught, therefore, he maintains a rigid demeanor, in part, to provide a stable link in the chain that makes up his family - The Falins.

Q. Do you have other books coming out soon?

A. Thank you for asking about my upcoming books. I'm about to submit my proposal for a novel entitileld, "Whisper Mountain". This story takes place in the early 1900's in the Great Smoky Mountains. It is the story about lost love, and a desperate woman's journey to fill the void that deprivation and loss have left in her heart. The story has elements of mystery, intrigue, murder, and of course, romance. I'm very excited about this story. I've also begun writing a sequel to "Coldwater Revival" which will parallel both Emma Grace's life after 1933, and the adventurous trek Elo begins when he falls in love.

THE FIRST CHAPTER of
Coldwater Revival

One

Coldwater, Texas

Three weeks before I was to marry Gavin O'Donnell, I set my feet upon the beaten path leading to Two-Toe Creek. What I had to offer Gavin in marriage—my whole heart, or just a part—depended on the
decision I would make today.

As my feet tracked the dusty pathway they stirred loose soil to the air. My heart stirred as well, for the guilt I had buried in its depths smoldered as though my brother had just died, and not five years earlier. In the shadowed days following the tragedy, my disgrace had glared like a packet of shiny new buttons. I'd not thought to hide it at the time. In truth, I'd thought of little, other than how to survive. But at some point during that time of sorrowful existence, when my days and nights strung together like endless telegraph wires, I dug a trench around my heart and buried my shame.

From that day until this, I deeded myself the actor's role, closing the curtain on my stain of bitter memories, hiding my sorrow behind a veil of pretense. But that old deceiver, Time, had neither softened my guilt nor put it to rest; only allowed it ample pause to fester like deadly gangrene. Now, as the day of my wedding drew near, my heart cried out for healing. It was, you see, far wiser than my head. My heart understood its need for restoration—before I exchanged wedding vows with Gavin. For this reason, I now walked the trail to Two-Toe Creek. To revisit my failures of yesteryear and reclaim the peace that had slipped past the portals of my childhood. Perhaps then I could give Gavin the entirety of my heart.